Adventures in Transcendental Materialism: Lacan, Our Hegel

This will be the reading for Saturday, November 14th.  A printable copy is here, though a few further edits may be made.  We will meet at the usual location in the sidebar.

Roughly speaking, there are two broad ways to characterize consciousness: either all thought is is entirely immanent to matter, or there is some sort of transcendence.  Fichte would call this the idealism v.s. dogmatism conflict.  Adrian Johnston calls his position transcendental materialism.  We can roughly nutshell this as a position which attempts to combine the scientific attitude of paying close attention to the life sciences with the transcendental position that consciousness is not reducible to matter.  He is not arguing for a “weak” concept of consciousness, either: the axiom of all his work is “no illusions”.  In this chapter of his book Adventures in Transcendental Materialism, Johnston mines the work of Jacques Lacan to find an account of a category of thinking which, while wholly embodied, is autonomous from the body and actually affects conscious thought in ways irreducible to brain patterns.  This category of thinking is the unconscious, and it is made of semblances, or autonomous signifiers.

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